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The Color of Monks’ Robes

This article originally appeared in the October 2013 issue.

Setting: An Imperial world of TL 5-7 with a breathable atmosphere and hydrographics rating 4+.

PC Required Skills: Stealth, Recon; Science skills (Chemistry, Biology) may also prove useful.

The PCs are approached by an individual who indicates that he believes that they are suitable for a job that his principal is seeking to have done. A large sum is mentioned. Are they interested, and willing to meet with his principal?

If the PCs agree to the meeting, they are brought to an apartment in a well-to-do area of the city. It is well-appointed, but shows nothing of the personality of the resident. The principal is a middle-aged man of aristocratic bearing; he introduces himself as the Baron of and Imperial representative on a nearby world. The local government there has been dealing with terrorism directed against Imperial interests and their supporters for the last decade. Recently, public opinion has turned against the rebels, and they have been stepping up their ‘cowardly’ tactics against the local populace, trying to increase anti-Imperial sentiments in an effort to drive Imperial interests off their world. The local government has not indicated a willingness to request Imperial assistance, so the Baron feels that he can’t call for intervention by the Imperial Marines. At the same time, the Imperial corporate interests that the terrorists have been targeting are putting pressure on the Baron to “do something”. He thinks he may have found something to do:

A prophecy in the local religion states [in translation]: “When the Great River turns the color of monks’ robes [a bright orange], there will be peace in the land.” The Baron believes if this event were to occur, the local populace (including most of the rebel force) would lay down their weapons and negotiate peacefully. However unlikely this seems, he’s willing to give it a try, in order to prevent greater bloodshed. The job offered to the PCs would be to find a way to change the color of the river (if only temporarily), and do so within a month. The pay is Cr 1,000,000. Are they interested?

Referee’s Information

The Dashary is over 1000 km in length, with heavy traffic and numerous bridges. It is a major route for local traffic, and the rebel forces use it as well. The lower (southern) regions are more heavily populated, with the middle regions being farmland, and mountainous/jungle headwaters. For the scheme to work, the players should effect the color change in a region where the change will be noticed.

It is not specifically mentioned (unless the players ask), but the players should strive to do as little ecological damage as possible. (Major ecological damage will likely bring the Imperium down on their heads, regardless of how well they perform the mission…)

And, as always, the situation may not be as initially presented. Some possible directions to take the adventure:

  1. All is as stated. The PCs will encounter no significant problems, as long as they use sufficient planning and caution. The Baron will be greatly pleased with the outcome, and could be a source of future contracts.
  2. The PCs succeed in changing the color of the river, but it happens while a rebel attack is in progress. This will be interpreted as an omen favorable to the rebels’ cause, and public opinion will swing somewhat against the Imperial presence on the world. There will be no upsurge in violence. The Baron will be unhappy, and will attempt to renege on payment.
  3. The changing of the river’s color will work as expected. However, shortly after peace is successfully concluded, evidence of environmental damage will surface. The scheme is revealed, the PCs are blamed, and Imperial environmentalists will be after them.
  4. In the process of seeking a method to change the river’s color, the PCs turn up evidence of illegalities by one of the Imperial companies. The company covered it up, but in the process provoked the group that eventually became the nucleus of the rebels. They (the rebels) have a justifiable grievance, if only the Baron would listen.
  5. The Baron has misrepresented the translation of the prophecy to the PCs, and knows that when the PCs succeed, the rebellion will become general instead of limited to the terrorists. He has come to despise the local culture, and wants them to rise in rebellion. Once this occurs he has legal recourse to send in the Imperial Marines to restore order, preferably (in his eyes) with as much damage as possible.
  6. An incompetent translator has gotten the translation completely wrong. When the river changes color, it will be taken as heralding apocalyptic “end times”, and the entire Imperial presence will have to flee—or a massive Marine force called in—to avoid being killed in the orgy of mutual destruction.

Subsequent events, as always, are to be determined by the referee (and player actions).